This is a story documentary John Wilson thought he’d never tell: When he was in college, he was in a cappella group and had a feud with another cappella group. After the two groups had an explosive confrontation that led to an online war of words, Wilson was told he would be expelled unless he made a formal apology to the head of the other group. Squeeze? Rival of a cappella group run by Keith Raniere, disgraced founder of the sex cult NXIVM.
Finally, he told the shocking story on Friday night’s episode of How to be with John Wilson, his own idiosyncratic HBO documentary. “I feel like I just sat on this bomb,” said Wilson Vanity Fair prior to the release of the volume. “I’m happy to see how people are taking it.”
The episode’s theme is “How to Appreciate Wine” and features the show’s creator (and protagonist) trying to fit in with a group of seasoned wine lovers. He then told a story from another time he was trying to fit in — back in college at Binghamton University.
The singing group he joined, called the Binghamton Crosbys, was invited to a summit called A Cappella Innovations in upstate New York, organized by Raniere and his team, Simply Human. Allison Mack, an actress and key member of NXIVM – still unknown to the public at the time as a cult, but a multi-level marketing agency that organizes seminars on personal development – was the highlight on of this event.
Wilson’s revelation is strange and unsettling, a story that has never been told before in the broader NXIVM narrative. In the episode, Wilson claims Raniere “had been lurking around the venue all night, giving lofty speeches about the transforming power of cappella,” and then allegedly questioned the students about An’s number An. their social life. (The summit, Wilson claims, is a front to attract impressionable specialist students into NXIVM.)
At the summit, Wilson and other members of his team did research on Raniere. They learned that he was on some hit list, and that the NXIVM participants had died by suicide. At the closing party, they faced off against NXIVM. “We shouted at Allison Mack and Keith Raniere in front of the rest of the cappella group and scribbled the names of the suicide victims on the whiteboards they had put up on the wall,” Wilson recounts in the episode. . Mack allegedly retaliated by accusing the students of dirtying hotel rooms with urine and feces. The feud spread to the office of Dean Binghamton, who allegedly threatened to expel Wilson if he didn’t call Mack and personally apologize to her. Wilson eventually complied with the dean’s request.
Years later, the NXIVM was finally brought down after the sect’s nefarious activities became public. In 2020, Raniere was convicted up to 120 years in prison for crimes including sex trafficking, cyber fraud and wire fraud conspiracy. Mack, who played a key role in grooming and enticing women to become Raniere’s sex slaves, was convicted up to three years in prison.
“I was texting with a cappella friend of mine when it started,” says Wilson. VF of the Raniere trial. “We were like, ‘Oh, my God!’ We just feel very vindicated.”
Wilson initially thought about sharing the story during the show’s first season, which will air in 2020, but decided against it because he “didn’t think enough people really knew or cared about anyone. [Raniere] is, or what the organization is. “That changed when Oath, HBO’s True Crime Documentary about Raniere and the making of NXIVM was released in the summer of 2020, propelled it to the list of geeks. “People are starting to think this story is just as psychotic as I am,” Wilson said.
Wilson says it’s difficult to re-emphasize that period of his life. Through the show, he feels more comfortable sharing extremely personal details about his life, even as he finds certain elements – like being in a cappella group – torturous. “It’s something that I’m not really prepared for enough to broadcast,” he admitted. He also had to relive the feud, recalling some of the more unpleasant moments from that period.
“I had to have a frank talk with the president of my university at the time and try to explain to her who these people were and why they were so toxic,” recalls Wilson. “She doesn’t believe me. I’ve had a weird shame ever since. All the alumni of a cappella group are like, “Why would you join something like this?” “It’s just this crazy movie that I never thought I’d live again.” He paused, laughing.
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https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2021/12/how-to-with-john-wilson-nxivm How to Get John Wilson’s Shocking NXIVM Connectivity Years in the making